Welcome back to From the Top, dancers! Today we are talking about ways to improve back flexibility! Back flexibility, along with back strength, is the key element to perfecting moves like arabesque, needles. penches, many more. However, for some reason or another, your upper and lower back can be one of the most difficult places to gain flexibility. So, today we’re going to share with you our all time favorite stretches for improving flexibility in both your upper and lower back, that are extremely effective! Let’s get started!
Ooh, what a feisty title! This stretch is commonly used in both dance classes and yoga classes. The cobra stretch is absolutely amazing for opening up the muscles in your lower back. Start by laying on your stomach and placing the palm of your hands beside your armpits. From there, use your hands to push your upper body up, while your hips and lower body stay in place on the ground. Hold this stretch from anywhere between 15 to 20 seconds. For even better results, after you have done this stretch once, take a small rest period and do the stretch once more!
“The Downward Dog”
This is another stretch that originated in yoga. Begin in your cobra stretch, as previously stated in the section above. Next, flex your feet, dig your toes in the floor and use your hands to push your body up into a tent like position. See if you can get the heels of your feet to touch the floor as much as you can. Hold this stretch for about 10 counts.
“The Twist and Shout”
Okay, we’re going to twist but I promise that you won’t shout! This stretch is absolutely perfect for both your upper and lower back. Start by sitting down with your legs straight out in front of you. From there, cross your right leg over your left knee and place your left arm outside of your right leg. From there, slowly twist your upper body to the right. Repeat this sequence on the other side. That sounds a little confusing, right? Don’t fret, mates! Here some pictures to show you exactly how to do it!
(Picture credit: http://www.ptworks.sg)
“Angry Cat – Happy Cat”
Yes, this is legitimately the name of this stretch. This is single handedly the strangest back stretch I have ever encountered in my life thus far but man, does it work! Start out on your hands and knees. Next, slowly curve your back upwards and hold this position for 10 seconds while taking deep breaths. This is the “Angry Cat”stretch and it focuses on the muscles of the upper back. From there, release your head upwards and arch your back downwards. This is the “Happy Cat” stretch and focuses on the muscles of the lower back. Hold this stretch for 10 counts as well, while taking deep breaths. Repeat this sequence three times.
And now for the infamous combres! This stretch is pretty much self – explanatory, as it is used in every ballet class. All you have to do is grab hold to a counter or wall, bring one arm up to fifth position and slowly bend backwards.Hold this stretch for 8 counts. Make sure to keep your eyes focused on the wrist of your working arm as you bend backwards. Also, be sure to keep your hips still, as pushing your hips forward will focus the stretch on the incorrect muscles. Instead, pull up out of your hips and bend backwards to create a nice, beautiful arch!
As always, I hope this post was a huge help to you all and for more stretches to help increase flexibility, check out our stretch calendar for the month of March! Twelve awesome stretches to help you along on your flexibility journey! Check it out by clicking the Monthly Stretch tab in the menu bar above! Thanks so much for tuning in and we’ll see you next Friday!